Choosing a Grill
Your first decision when choosing a grill is deciding on what fuel source you will use, charcoal, gas or even electricity? This is the subject of great debate. It boils down to a choice of the great smoky flavor of a charcoal grill versus the convenience of a gas or electric grill.
Hardcore grill masters enjoy the trip as well as the destination. The rewards of cooking on charcoal are not just the great taste of the steak sitting in front of you but the whole experience of set-up, slow cooking and drinking a few cold ones while chatting with friends or family.
- Use charcoal briquettes, wood or both as a fuel source.
- Charcoal grilling provides that great smoked flavor
- Cooking over coals requires more time. Set-up will require at least 20 minutes and you will have to clean up and dispose of ashes afterwards.
- Adjusting heat temperatures is less accurate and time consuming than with a gas grill.
- Charcoal dust in the beginning and ash disposal after, grilling with charcoal can be messy.
- Use propane(LP) or natural gas as fuel.
- Gas burns cleaner and is more economical than charcoal
- Set-up is much quicker on a gas grill as you're not waiting for charcoal to light
- Heat is instant and temperature adjustment is much more accurate. With about 10 minutes of pre-heating you're ready to cook.
- Propane tanks come in 20 lbs size and with burners on high, a full tank will give you approximately 9 hour of cooking time. Under normal conditions a tank will cook about 25 to 30 meals.
- Use charcoal, gas or electricity as fuel.
- Smokers have the ability to cook large amounts of food.
- Smokers cook slowly using indirect heat and are still usable as a grill with direct heat.
- They provide large surface areas for grilling
What size grill should I buy?
There are many options when it comes to grill size. Everything from the small $25 dollar cast iron Hibachi to large trailer mounted smokers that cost thousands of dollars. The size of the grill that will work for you is dependant on several factors.
- Your budget, what can you afford?
There are grills for every budget. Cost is largely determined by construction materials and size, stainless steel and aluminum are more expensive than painted or powder coated steel. Gas grills are typically more expensive that charcoal grills.
- How many people will you be cooking for?
If it's just you and your wife and you don't do much entertaining, then a smaller grill will probably suit you just fine, but if you're planning on hosting the 4th of July family reunion, a large capacity grill or smoker may be in order.
- Will you be cooking whole meals?
If you plan on cooking entrees with multiple side dishes you will need more grill surface area than you will for just a couple of steaks or hamburgers.
- Do you want the capabilities of smoking large cuts of meats?
If whole turkeys or beef briskets are part of your plans then you will need a smoker. This type of grill has a side fire box for fuel and a main cooking chamber large enough for for that big cut of meat.
- How often will you be grilling?
If you're a weekend griller then time is not a big factor, but if you grill out several times a week, you might want to consider the speed and convienience of a gas grill.
- How much space do you have for a grill?
If you're an apartment dweller with a small patio, a big grill or smoker may not be for you. You need to also take safety in to mind. Grills generate a lot of heat and can be harmful to the exterior of your house, particularly vinyl siding.
What type of grill surface?
The type of surface you are cooking on creates the grill marks we all love on our steak. There are several surface types and each has it's own Unique characteristics.
- Porcelain Coated Cast Iron.
This material is great at retaining heat and is very easy to clean. This surface is very durable and lasts longer than most other types.
- Stainless Steel
Has excellent corrosion resistance but food will stick to it.
- Cast Iron
This is my surface of choice. These grates will require seasoning just as you would for a cast iron frying pan but seasoned properly these grates are rust proof, non-stick and distribute heat better than any other grate material.